Asia watched as her son walked tentatively into his new residence. Kolby was as tall as she was, but in a way, he reminded her of his toddler days when he first began to walk. She could tell by those first hesitant steps that he was nervous but oh so excited to be doing something new. This was no different, and she fought the urge to shed tears.
She cleared her throat and wanted to slap herself for picking up one of Mary and Eliza’s quirks. “This is nice.”
Her voice seemed to bring him back from whatever was on his mind. Asia didn’t think she would enjoy living in a studio apartment, but now that she had a good look, it grew on her.
“It’s just the right size if you don’t plan to be here much,” she said.
“Right? I don’t want to pay for what I’m not gonna use.”
She giggled at his thriftiness. They offered to pay for his down payment, first few months of rent, and furniture, but he turned them because he wanted to be a “real” man and take care of himself. Asia thought the idea was precious and loved that he was trying to be fiscally responsible. What he didn’t know, however, was as soon as she got home, she planned to slip the money into his savings account anyway. He didn’t have to touch it, but it would be there if/when he needed it.
“Oh,” Kolby said and dug into his pocket. “Here.” He handed her a key. “I guess you should have it for emergencies.”
She flashed a cheeky smile. “For emergencies and not whenever I want to come check on my son?”
“I know, I know…call first so you can clean up and send the girl home.”
She giggled and sat on the bed. He joined her, and she gazed at him for a moment. She and Jared did their very best with him. Life for the Pruetts was the hardest when he was a child. Their schedules rarely coincided and most of the time he only had one parent at a time. Kolby always adjusted very well to changes, and he never gave them any trouble. He grew up to be a responsible teen, and Asia hoped his adult life would yield the same results. She had heard so many stories about good children who went crazy after experiencing a bit of freedom. She’d understand if Kolby did but hoped he’d still behave responsibly with his fun.
“I still can’t believe I found this place,” he said.
Because Kolby didn’t want to take his parents’ money, he wanted to find a furnished apartment although he didn’t think it was possible within his price range. Asia was sure that was the only way he would take their money. Sleeping on the floor was not a good look. He saw an ad for someone wanting to sublet her apartment for the foreseeable future. She recently got married but didn’t want to pay to break her lease.
“I bet Penny feels more comfortable that it’s you and not a stranger. That was definitely very lucky,” she said in a far away tone.
“What’s wrong, mom?”
She started to say “nothing” and move on, but that could have been her last heart-to-heart with him. Sure, he wouldn’t cease being her son, and she would never stop advising him, but he might be less inclined to listen when he’s old enough to think he’s got it made.
“I, uhhh, I was just thinking about you…and the future.”
Why was it so hard? They had an open relationship and had discussed many things without being awkward. Somehow this felt different.
“You’re a musician.” She let that word linger in the air for a few seconds. “And you’re going to be very famous day. And…because of that, you might be tempted to…to embrace a certain lifestyle…” She hoped he caught on. “I want you to remember that your name means something to people. You’re a Pruett, and certain expectations come with that name. It’s an unfortunate burden to bear, but you have it.”
“Just…don’t make a fool of yourself…or this family.”
She was never one to sound posh or uptight and hoped she didn’t come across that way. That was probably a conversation Jared should have had with him, but somehow she didn’t think he would bring it up.
His laughter surprised her. “Was that the long way of saying don’t be on magazine covers because I sleep with all my adoring fans?”
“Yes! Don’t be a playboy!”
He returned her previous cheeky smile. “I’ll try. I can’t make any promises though.”
“Good heavens, Kolby! You better be joking!”